When it comes to heroic and inspiring writers, it’s impossible not to recognize the one and only Toni Morrison. With heart, bravery and raw talent, she amazed readers for decades with her heartbreaking and powerful stories. To pay tribute to the unforgettable woman, we’ve put together a list of books you must read if you love Toni Morrison and her incredible work.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s Beloved affected readers everywhere when it was released in 1987. Protagonist Sethe was lucky enough to escape the slavery she was born into, but couldn’t escape the horrific memories of the place where she spent her young years. Eighteen years after escaping to Ohio, she continues to deal with the scars from her past and the ghost of the nameless child she lost. This breathtaking novel took home the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was later adapted by Oprah Winfrey for the big screen.
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When notable author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a longtime friend requesting advice for raising her daughter to be a feminist, Adichie knew that this was her opportunity to share important lessons with the world. In this book, she shares 15 suggestions for how to raise your daughter, getting to the root of sexual politics in our modern world, and defining what it really means to be a woman in the 21st century.
Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza
After Bette Mayfield was emancipated, she took her granddaughter Eudora and headed to Charleston to start a new and free life together. In Some Sing, Some Cry, readers follow the lives of these two brave women as Eudora gets married and has children of her own, tracing the family’s life from their humble beginnings to the everyday pleasures and horrors of our current world.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a debut unlike any other. At a young age, Maya and her brother were sent to live with their grandmother, instantly feeling abandoned and alone. Enduring hardships until she’s reunited with her mother at age eight, Maya was later subjected to a brutal attack by an older man, leaving her to deal with the consequences for decades. This monumental memoir explores the ways in which Maya came to love herself and find freedom in a world that often felt suffocating.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Young black man Elwood Curtis is looking forward to his future no matter the injustices he sees occurring every day in the Jim Crow South of the early ’60s. But his plans to attend college are thwarted when he makes an innocent mistake that lands him in the Nickel Academy. Elwood has heard horror stories about the juvenile reformatory and his worst nightmares are realized when he learns that the stories are all true. When Elwood meets fellow student Turner, he knows that together, they can escape this hellish school but first, they must make a decision that will change their lives and history forever.
Meridian by Alice Walker
Atlanta college student Meridian Hill is desperate to find a way to help bring about social equality and change in her everchanging world. She soon comes to find her path when she begins working on a campaign to register African American voters. Struggling with a paralyzing illness, she lives and works in the deep South, doing everything she can to make a difference for herself and those subject to prejudice and injustice.
Fools Crow by James Welch
It’s 1870 and everything is about to change for a small band of Blackfeet Indians in the Two Medicine Territory of Montana. With white men moving in to claim their territory as their own, new dangers are found at every turn. It’ll be up to young warrior and medicine man Fools Crow to try and save his community and those he loves most as he’s seen the future and knows the chaos these newcomers will bring.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a key piece of American literature and won the National Book Award for fiction in 1953. In this novel, a nameless narrator tells the story of his experiences growing up in a black neighborhood in the South, attending and later being expelled from a Negro college and his time as the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood.” This novel takes an important look at the life of a young black man, the violence he was forced to endure and the life he always imagined for himself.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Oscar Wao is a tortured young man who wants nothing more than to become the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and spend his life with someone who will love him for who he really is. But due to a curse that has followed his family for years, he’s finding it hard to achieve his dreams. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel expertly describes Dominican-American history and tells the genuine story of a young outcast who risks it all in the name of love.
Morrison’s final publication, The Source of Self-Regard, is divided into three equally impactful sections. Tackling social issues like female empowerment, money, human rights and the foreigner, this collection of writings provides powerful insight into our culture and the ways in which language and true emotion affect humans every day.
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